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Sanchez wins first ATP title

February 17, 2003 12:25 IST

Spain's David Sanchez won his first ATP crown on Sunday, coming from behind to hand Chile's Marcelo Rios yet another home defeat in the final of the Bellsouth Open.

Rios, who was seeded three and had not dropped a set in the tournament, was within three games of collecting the 19th title of his career, and his first in his homeland, after he swept into a 6-1, 3-1 lead.

But the unseeded Sanchez, 24, beaten in both his previous two matches against Rios, recovered to claim a 1-6, 6-3, 6-3 win as the Chilean appeared to lose his confidence and motivation.

Rios's frustration became obvious when he slammed his racket on the court during the third set, the first open display of temper in the week-long tournament from the volatile former world number one.

It was the fourth time in four attempts that Rios had lost in the final of the event. He was runner-up three years running between 1995 and 1997 when it was played in the capital Santiago.

"It was a great game, it's very complicated to play here," Sanchez told reporters.

"I was a bit nervous to start with but then I got going and when Rios saw a solid player in front of him, he lowered his level."

Rios, whose last title was in Hong Kong 18 months ago, said: "Nobody likes to lose, especially at home. I know everyone is sad like me that I couldn't win.

"I've felt better and I've been playing better. I want to thank everyone and maybe I can win next year."

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